2024 Edtech Trends: Authenticity, Better Tools, and More AI (Of Course)

edtech trends
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Just like making annual resolutions, we cast our vision ahead at this time of year to ponder what may come our way over the next 12 months. And in the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of education technology, that task is more challenging than keeping that weight-loss promise to ourselves!

Nonetheless, let’s gaze into our edtech crystal ball . . . .

AI Takes the Next Step 

Without a doubt, the biggest trend over the past year has been the impact of AI on education. And just as rapid as its emergence has been its evolution. In a little over a year AI has gone from being feared and banned to being accepted and integrated into lessons. 

Now that the new-car shine has faded a bit and educators have become more comfortable with using AI for basic tasks, such as creating lesson plans, assessments, and course outlines, expect to see it become a key driver of classroom creativity and innovation. 

For example, during Tech & Learning’s Innovation Summit, a team of educators was able to create this video portrait of a 2040 graduate using AI in only minutes. 

As AI improves, expect more remarkable uses for AI to find ways into the classroom.

AI Becomes Boring 

As AI technology matures with this next step, just like what happened with MTV, it will become less hip. Already some of the novelty of ChatGPT and other AI technologies is starting to wear thin. 

This isn’t a bad thing. Most of us don’t spend time marveling at the ingenuity of the internal combustion engine but that doesn’t stop us from using it and benefiting from that ingenuity. 

In 2024 the trend toward normalcy and everyday integration of AI in schools will begin in earnest. We’re not saying AI will fade from the headlines or become as mundane a part of edtech as learning management systems, but as it becomes more accepted, it will surrender the spotlight, at least somewhat. Conversations around teaching with AI will become just conversations around teaching that naturally incorporate AI. 

Pretesting Takes Off 

Most forward-thinking educators agree that the last thing education needs is more “drill and kill” testing. But there is a type of testing we are big fans of and that’s “pretesting.” In this counterintuitive technique, students are tested on material before they learn it. 

As one cognitive scientist put it to us, this can feel silly but it gets results. The body of evidence that pretesting helps students retain material continues to grow. 

In the coming year, more and more educators will embrace the practice and students will learn more as a result, even as they are convinced it is a waste of time. Because nobody can argue with science. Oh wait ….

Emphasis on Authenticity 

Regurgitating facts back at the teacher, aka “intellectual bulimia,” has long been recognized as a lazy, and not particularly effective way of teaching, however, this year will see it become more rare than ever before. That’s not because teachers who have resisted more engaging ways of teaching suddenly see the light but because the old-school book report-style assignment is so easy to cheat by using AI. 

To avoid this, teachers will have to get creative and rethink pedagogy, and craft assignments that require developing new approaches to instruction. Whether that involves gathering new and unique data, writing new stories inspired by or perhaps in dialogue with old classics, or localizing national issues, you can bet we will see more work that requires students to reflect upon their own lives and learn more about their classmates and communities. 

Tactile Strikes Back  

Pushback is increasing against cell phone use at schools and questions are arising about the impact these devices have on the mental health of young people. At the same time, new research has suggested reading on paper can be more effective than on screens and writing by hand can lead to deeper learning than typing. 

All of this will lead to a return to more pen-and-paper assignments and other hands-on experiences for students. In fact, many states are already bringing back cursive writing. Devices aren’t going anywhere, but 2024 will be the year society gets better at using phones for what they’re good at, and other tools, even old-fashioned ones, for what they’re good at. 

Or at least we can hope this is what happens.

Cutting Back on The Number of Edtech Tools 

The average school district deployed more than 2,500 tools in the 2022-23 school year, according to a report from Instructure’s LearnPlatform. This dizzying number can make things difficult for IT directors faced with unprecedented cybersecurity threats. In addition, having to manage, learn, and track passwords for all these various platforms can add a lot of stress for teachers and their students. 

Look for the number of tools utilized to decrease in the coming year, as districts realize that often less is more, and that a slightly less effective tool that teachers and students already know how to use might be better than a slightly more effective tool with a bit of a learning curve. Also, expect a continued consolidation of platforms and systems to help thin out overcrowded toolboxes.

ChatGPT Will Become The 47th President of the United States 

Given the amount of media hype, deep fakes, and general popularity, plus AI’s inevitable plan to take down humankind, there’s no doubt that we could see the election of ChatGPT to the White House. 

Then again, maybe it’ll be Taylor Swift! 

It’ll be an interesting year either way.

Erik Ofgang

Erik Ofgang is a Tech & Learning contributor. A journalist, author and educator, his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and Associated Press. He currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University’s MFA program. While a staff writer at Connecticut Magazine he won a Society of Professional Journalism Award for his education reporting. He is interested in how humans learn and how technology can make that more effective. 

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